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The cure for Frozen water?

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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby Boggy B » Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:22 pm

I live on bottled water, and carry super-thin plastic 500mL bottles all year. In winter, one goes inside my coat, and the others go in the pack. Never had one freeze solid, and the bottles in the pack can be mostly thawed after a few minutes in the coat. Their advantage is flexibility as any ice accumulated can be broken up just by squeezing the bottle.

This system worked through even my coldest day last winter:
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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby yedi » Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:42 pm

I saw the Arctic Innovations HydroHeater hydration pack in Outside's gear guide today and it reminded me of this thread. The bladder includes a battery-powered heating element to defrost the hose and bite valve down to -50 degrees. Seems a little gimmicky and a LOT spendy (MSRP $200!) for my tastes, but I'm curious to hear if anyone else has seen one in person and/or tried it.

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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby kangstma » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:47 pm

There's a brand of sea salt called Real Salt that comes in a heavy-duty bag with a threaded cap. After quickly measuring the water, it holds around 400ml. The shape of it keeps it perfectly sized to fit in a pocket (if it's really cold) or in the waist belt pockets of my Kode pack. It's not easy to fill without a funnel or a drinking fountain, but it's the perfect size to keep water available and unfrozen. When I'm backcountry skiing I use it on the skin track if I get really thirsty and use the Nalgene's in my pack during the transitions. It's the only thing I bring resort skiing now, because it's so easy to fill at a drinking fountain. I don't trust all my water in a Camelback during the winter, but it's tough to lose the easy access they provide - this has been the perfect solution for me. The Real Salt Kosher Sea Salt is amazing by the way, so if you're going to go this route, get that one. I found it at a Natural Grocers, but it's probably at Whole Foods too. For the record, I didn't come up with this. I saw a skier at Loveland filling one up and asked him about it.

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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Sweet, when the "frozen water" thread comes around, I know it's almost ski season!!!

Once again, I'll provide my secret for keeping my water watery when the temps are below zero... Well, I guess it's no secret since Boggy B just described it:
1) Don't use a water hose system. Period.
2) Carry a small bottle of water in your jacket. Yes, it's a bit of a P-I-T-A having a bottle in your jacket, but it works.
3) Carry the rest of your water in separate, light bottles inside your pack and close to your back. I prefer to use a Platypus bag (sans hose) and keep it in the normal bag sleeve inside the pack. They sell caps for Platy bags so you can ditch the hose. Using a bag makes for some intricate refill situations but it's a lightweight; I've never had one freeze and I climb/ski in some really cold weather. -20? No problem. -20 with wind? That's time to catch up on my DVR recordings.

The stove and melting water:
When the lows are forecasted to be above zero, I'll bring the MSR Reactor or Pocket Rocket. If the temps are going to be lower, I bring the MSR Whisperlite which uses white gas. It only takes one incident of "frozen" IsoButane fuel to realize the shortcomings of that fuel system in extreme cold. You can put the stove+cannister on an insulated pad, dirt or whatever but it's going to fail unless you find a good way to keep the fuel canister warm while you melt snow and cook your meals.

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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby MyFeetHurt » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:17 pm

I pretty much agree with Bill. I don't use a system with a hose, it will freeze eventually. I usually just stick some powdered gatorade in a nalgene inside the pack, and I expect that to begin to freeze eventually, but only on an exceptionally cold and long day. A bit of dehydration is unfortunately the norm for winter, but I do bring a camelback vacuum thermos of cider for my XC ski laps.

As far as a stove, I think its great that people are able to get the MSR Reactor or isobutane stove work in such cold weather. But after waiting ALL DAY to melt snow with one at 18,000' because the output was so low (as well as some occasions here in Colorado), I tend to stay away from isobutane when it's below freezing. The stove works, but the output is so diminished after 10 minutes that it's practically worthless. They work great when you first fire them up in the cold, but prolonged use is just a diminishing return from my experience. However, I can only comment on the top feed iso canisters, some of the inverted bottom feed stoves might solve this problem. I've had good luck with them so far but cannot comment on super cold weather yet.

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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby RyGuy » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:44 am

MyFeetHurt wrote:As far as a stove, I think its great that people are able to get the MSR Reactor or isobutane stove work in such cold weather. But after waiting ALL DAY to melt snow with one at 18,000' because the output was so low (as well as some occasions here in Colorado), I tend to stay away from isobutane when it's below freezing. The stove works, but the output is so diminished after 10 minutes that it's practically worthless. They work great when you first fire them up in the cold, but prolonged use is just a diminishing return from my experience. However, I can only comment on the top feed iso canisters, some of the inverted bottom feed stoves might solve this problem. I've had good luck with them so far but cannot comment on super cold weather yet.

I won't disagree with Bill that in general, IsoButane is not going to be very practical for sub zero temperatures because when it comes down to it, the issue is IsoButane boils at around 11F. Since the MSR reactor requires the IsoButane to be in gas form, the IsoButane must be kept above 11F such that it will boil, and therefore put out gas. So if you take a Cylinder of pure IsoButane out climbing, and it's allowed to chill to the outside temps...when you go to start the stove, it is not going to work well at all. Simple physics really.

Now there are a couple ways that I love using in winter to help me coax the stove into performing like a champ despite the cold:

1. The power of Propane: Most IsoButane cans are a mix of IsoButane and about 20% Propane. This helps the stove function at very low temps because Propane's boiling point is about -43F, so even below zero, it will still continue to boil in the cylinder and put out enough gas to power the stove, abiet not quite as hot. So if you pull out a brand new cylinder that has been chilled to lets just say 10F, it will actually work decently for 5-8 minutes. However there will be a problem. Since the Propane is what's boiling, and only 20% of the cylinder is Propane, you will basically burn off all the propane, and be left with just liquid IsoButane sitting in the cylinder. Basically you are screwed at that point. So great, I got the stove to work for 8 mins. That won't help me, or will it? Read on:

2. Charles' Law in action: If we happen to warm the cylinder up somehow, shouldn't that cause the IsoButane to start boiling, pressurize the cylinder and cause the stove to start working? Yup. It certainly does. So one of the key things to using IsoButane in low temperatures is to keep the cylinder as warm as you can. This will allow the IsoButane AND Propane to boil, pressurize the cylinder, and power the stove. So there are a couple ways to do this. I take a two pronged approach. Before my climbs, I will boil a ton of water (From home or from my MSR with a warm cylinder) and fill 3-4 Nalgene bottles with the boiling water. I then will put a pair of my heavy smartwool socks around the bottle to keep the bottles warm, and place them in my insulated pack. My MSR stove with fuel cylinder usually sits next to the warm Nalgenes. The heat from the Nalgenes alone typically keeps the inside of my pack and the stove at 80-90F for a good 5-6 hours. So when I pull the stove out on a cold summit, the cylinder is already warm, and fires right up and runs at full power for usually 10-15 minutes before it starts to chill down to the surrounding temps. So keeping the cylinder warm now is the problem. My solution for that is I carry a small plastic bowl that the cylinder happens to fit into very nicely. I take advantage of the full power of the stove when it first starts to warm a small bit of water to 100-110F or so. (Note: A hot tub is typically 104F) I'll then pour this water into the bowl, with the cylinder/stove already sitting in the bowl. The water quickly imparts tons of heat into the cylinder, causing an rapid pressure increase in the cylinder and the stove to stay at full power for a good 15-20 mins.

EDIT: Disclaimer: Be very careful not to use HOT or boiling (Above 110F) water to warm the cylinder. Overheating the cylinder will result in a tremendous pressure increase in a very short period of time. Loose translation: You could cause the cylinder/stove to explode.

Picture from the winter welcomer on Quandary Peak yesterday showing the stove with the bowl. The temps were 18-20F when the picture was taken.
Image

Now, the key to keeping the stove going long term is to just add a bit of very warm/hot water to the bowl after every other full water boil. I've run my stove for well over an hour this way, in temps below 15-20F with no issues at all.

So IsoButane stoves certainly can be used at very low temps, HOWEVER, to Bill's point, ultimately white gas is going to be the best, most fool proof solution to temperatures below zero because you don't have to worry about keeping those cylinders warm.

I'll also admit, you take a risk with IsoButane when temperatures are below zero, because if you can't find a way to either keep that cylinder warm, or warm it up pretty decently from the cold, you could be in some major trouble if you need that stove to work.

-Ryan
Last edited by RyGuy on Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby falcon568 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:35 am

Huge fan of the Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka; if you're putting hot/warm water into a nalgene with this on, it has to be polar bear cold before it'll freeze. Granted, it's pretty expensive, but worth it to keep water drinkable
http://www.outdoorresearch.com/en/or-gear/water-bottle-parka-1.html
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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:56 am

ACERyGuy007 wrote:2. Charles' Law in action: If we happen to warm the cylinder up somehow, shouldn't that cause the IsoButane to start boiling, pressurize the cylinder and cause the stove to start working? Yup. It certainly does. So one of the key things to using IsoButane in low temperatures is to keep the cylinder as warm as you can. This will allow the IsoButane AND Propane to boil, pressurize the cylinder, and power the stove. So there are a couple ways to do this. I take a two pronged approach. Before my climbs, I will boil a ton of water (From home or from my MSR with a warm cylinder) and fill 3-4 Nalgene bottles with the boiling water. I then will put a pair of my heavy smartwool socks around the bottle to keep the bottles warm, and place them in my insulated pack. My MSR stove with fuel cylinder usually sits next to the warm Nalgenes. The heat from the Nalgenes alone typically keeps the inside of my pack and the stove at 80-90F for a good 5-6 hours. So when I pull the stove out on a cold summit, the cylinder is already warm, and fires right up and runs at full power for usually 10-15 minutes before it starts to chill down to the surrounding temps. So keeping the cylinder warm now is the problem. My solution for that is I carry a small plastic bowl that the cylinder happens to fit into very nicely. I take advantage of the full power of the stove when it first starts to warm a small bit of water to 110F or so. I'll then pour this water into the bowl, with the cylinder/stove already sitting in the bowl. The water instantly imparts tons of heat into the cylinder, causing an instant pressure increase in the cylinder and the stove to stay at full power for a good 15-20 mins.

That's an interesting way to keep the canister warm, although then I'd have to carry a bowl. :)

Seriously, though, for the those who don't do a lot of cold, winter camping that sounds like a good way to be able to stick to an isobutane setup.
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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby Dex » Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:33 pm

ACERyGuy007 wrote:
MyFeetHurt wrote:2. Charles' Law in action: If we happen to warm the cylinder up somehow, shouldn't that cause the IsoButane to start boiling, pressurize the cylinder and cause the stove to start working? Yup. It certainly does. So one of the key things to using IsoButane in low temperatures is to keep the cylinder as warm as you can. This will allow the IsoButane AND Propane to boil, pressurize the cylinder, and power the stove. So there are a couple ways to do this. I take a two pronged approach. Before my climbs, I will boil a ton of water (From home or from my MSR with a warm cylinder) and fill 3-4 Nalgene bottles with the boiling water. I then will put a pair of my heavy smartwool socks around the bottle to keep the bottles warm, and place them in my insulated pack. My MSR stove with fuel cylinder usually sits next to the warm Nalgenes. The heat from the Nalgenes alone typically keeps the inside of my pack and the stove at 80-90F for a good 5-6 hours. So when I pull the stove out on a cold summit, the cylinder is already warm, and fires right up and runs at full power for usually 10-15 minutes before it starts to chill down to the surrounding temps. So keeping the cylinder warm now is the problem. My solution for that is I carry a small plastic bowl that the cylinder happens to fit into very nicely. I take advantage of the full power of the stove when it first starts to warm a small bit of water to 110F or so. I'll then pour this water into the bowl, with the cylinder/stove already sitting in the bowl. The water instantly imparts tons of heat into the cylinder, causing an instant pressure increase in the cylinder and the stove to stay at full power for a good 15-20 mins.

Picture from the winter welcomer on Quandary Peak yesterday showing the stove with the bowl. The temps were 18-20F when the picture was taken.

Now, the key to keeping the stove going long term is to just add a bit of very warm/hot water to the bowl after every other full water boil. I've run my stove for well over an hour this way, in temps below 15-20F with no issues at all.

So IsoButane stoves certainly can be used at very low temps, HOWEVER, to Bill's point, ultimately white gas is going to be the best, most fool proof solution to temperatures below zero because you don't have to worry about keeping those cylinders warm.

I'll also admit, you take a risk with IsoButane when temperatures are below zero, because if you can't find a way to either keep that cylinder warm, or warm it up pretty decently from the cold, you could be in some major trouble if you need that stove to work.

-Ryan


More info on the site below then you might want to know
http://zenstoves.net/Canister.htm#Fuels
http://zenstoves.net/StoveChoices.htm

Another idea instead of water would be a chemical hand warmer attached to the bottom of the canister.
The key is to keep the canister above 32 degrees ( I think it is 28 degrees but this site says otherwise)

At sea level:
Propane boils around -43° F (-40° C)
Butane boiling around 31° F (-0.5° C)
Isobutane boils around 11° F (-12° C)

Also, note the chart for other altitudes.

Note "Safe methods of warming fuel canisters" and "Risky methods of warming fuel canisters "

Ultimately, I think Bill M is correct.
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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby RyGuy » Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:36 pm

Dex wrote:
More info on the site below then you might want to know
http://zenstoves.net/Canister.htm#Fuels
http://zenstoves.net/StoveChoices.htm

Another idea instead of water would be a chemical hand warmer attached to the bottom of the canister.
The key is to keep the canister above 32 degrees ( I think it is 28 degrees but this site says otherwise)

At sea level:
Propane boils around -43° F (-40° C)
Butane boiling around 31° F (-0.5° C)
Isobutane boils around 11° F (-12° C)

Also, note the chart for other altitudes.

Note "Safe methods of warming fuel canisters" and "Risky methods of warming fuel canisters "

Ultimately, I think Bill M is correct.


Good info on that site, Dex. Certainly cool to see graphs of the various fuels.

I can tell you from quite a bit of experience that the chemical hand warmers, even the jumbo ones don't work at all. I played around with the chemical warmers for awhile as a way to keep my Nalgenes and Camelbak warm before realizing they just don't have the heat output needed to do much. The heat output to weight ratio was also abysmally low, so I scrapped anything having to do with the warmers because you basically are just adding dead weight to your pack. The hot/warm water idea so far has been the best of both worlds because I am bringing the water with me either way, so I might as well load it with a ton of heat since it doesn't add any weight, and yet provides a ton of warmth for a long period of time.

That said, I am well aware of what happens when you over-pressurize a gas cylinder due to heating. Which is why I noted that you want to be using water around 110F or cooler. I suppose I should have thrown a sentence in about being careful not to douse the cylinders in boiling water. I'll go edit that in now. Certainly appreciate the note about it nonetheless. :-D

At the end of the day though, Bill is correct about your fuel options. If you are going to be doing sub zero stuff, an MSR XGK EX or MSR WhisterLite using white gas is a pretty bomb-proof way to go.
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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby Dex » Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:49 pm

ACERyGuy007 wrote:
I can tell you from quite a bit of experience that the chemical hand warmers, even the jumbo ones don't work at all. I played around with the chemical warmers for awhile as a way to keep my Nalgenes and Camelbak warm before realizing they just don't have the heat output needed to do much.


I wouldn't rely upon them either, although I do carry them for an emergency. I think limiting the oxygen seem to help e.g. keeping them in your pocket.
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Re: The cure for Frozen water?

Postby RyGuy » Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:56 pm

Dex wrote:
ACERyGuy007 wrote:
I can tell you from quite a bit of experience that the chemical hand warmers, even the jumbo ones don't work at all. I played around with the chemical warmers for awhile as a way to keep my Nalgenes and Camelbak warm before realizing they just don't have the heat output needed to do much.


I wouldn't rely upon them either, although I do carry them for an emergency. I think limiting the oxygen seem to help e.g. keeping them in your pocket.

Actually, part of the problem with the chemical hand warmers is that they need Oxygen to work properly. So if you have them in a rather confined environment with little air circulation like a pocket or inside a pack, they won't work as well. The heat is generated by an exothermic reaction between Oxygen and Iron. See more info here: https://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/88/8804sci3.html

-Ryan
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